Death with dignity

In this video Rosemary Bowen decided to end her life by fasting after a back injury that denied her of her physical independence.  While this may appear extreme to some people , I personally want to honor strong willed patients who think this way. 

A few years ago, I was driving from a ski trip in Vermont and tuned my radio to a local station.  It so happened that the station was describing the case of a 70-some-year-old man who lived alone for over 30 years in the forest. He was completely independent, loved fishing, hunting, and logging, which was his livelihood.Over the prior 12 months, he started losing weight and developed abdominal pain and bloody stool.When he was diagnosed with colon cancer he decided to avoid any treatment, not because he was incurable but because he did not want to go through the treatment, lose independence, or develop severe chemo/radiation and surgery side effects.  Prior to this story I was against physician assisted suicide or a patient taking their life in the way similar to Rosemary earlier.  But the way the story was discussed, it dawned on me that if I were in this man’s shoes I may make exactly same choice! And in that moment I became a supporter for death with dignity programs such as one we have in DC now. https://dchealth.dc.gov/page/death-dignity-act-2016

Now, a few years later, I have helped several of our GW doctors to support patients like Rosemary in their journey of taking control over their last moments of life.

Special thanks to Dr Katalin Roth and Robert Jayes for finding resources on this topic

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